107.  Real Steel

Let’s get something straight.  Real Steel is way more like Rocky than Warrior is.  Just had to get that off my chest.  The fight scenes in this movie were all really cool.  The fights themselves were well-choreographed and the special effects were really neat (and I’m sure I would have appreciated them even more on the big screen).  But I think every single line of dialogue needed to be rewritten.  The plot probably could have been sharpened as well.  I suppose that all just made the fight scenes that much cooler, but it would have been nice if as much attention were paid to the non-fight parts of the script.

106.  War Horse

Clearly not one of the ten best movies of the year, it wasn’t quite as bad as people made it out to be.  But ultimately, the film’s framework of short vignettes tied together by the horse proved not to be satisfying.  Pretty much by design, we didn’t get a chance to become emotionally invested in any of the characters.  Which was disappointing because of the many fine actors in the production, sure.  But also because as the war did horrible things to character or created special moments of humanity, it was hard to have the emotional reaction so clearly expected by the score, visuals, and direction.

105.  Henry’s Crime

Stay with me for a sec while I’ll explain the premise.  Keanu Reeves is your typical nice guy who unwittingly gets caught up in a bank robbery and sent to jail.  During which time his wife (Judy Greer) leaves him for one of the actual bank robbers because why not waste Judy Greer and he befriends a lifelong inmate (James Caan).  Upon his release, Reeves decides to rob the bank he got sent to jail for not robbing because I think he doesn’t understand how double jeopardy works.  He enlists Caan and an a local actress who never quite got around to leaving for New York (Vera Farmiga).  The way they get to the bank is through the adjacent playhouse, which is putting on a production of “The Cherry Orchard” and is directed by Peter Stormare.  Reeves gains access to the playhouse by becoming the lead in the play.  Which means this movie is about Keanu Reeves acting as a guy with no acting experience acting in Chekhov.

104.  Take Shelter

Yes, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain are both quite good.  But I was kinda left wondering what the point was.  Maybe that’s on me, where I expect crazy-or-not tales to be morality plays like The Twilight Zone.  I just don’t necessarily see that a depiction of the descent into madness is an end by itself.  Regardless of how well Shannon played the role, I needed to see something more.

103.  Win Win

I wanted to love this film from writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station AgentThe Visitor) but I seem to be liking his films progressively less and less.  The plot is disturbingly thin: Paul Giamatti (a lawyer and wrestling coach) kinda takes advantage of an elderly client, the guy’s grandson shows up and is really good at wrestling, then they have to deal with the kid’s mom, who isn’t particularly nice.  And the wrestling wasn’t terribly exciting because the kid is way better than everyone else, so it isn’t like he has to learn or train or anything, really, he just is dominant.  Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Melanie Lynskey, and Margo Martindale are all wasted.

102.  Red Riding Hood

Not entirely certain who decided all fairly tales needed to be recast as dark and gritty gorefests, but I just hope he’s found someone with whom he can discuss his messed-up childhood.  This version of the story where a wolf terrorizes a medieval town isn’t terribly interesting.  Gary Oldman is pretty great in it, because he is Gary Oldman, but he yells a lot.  Like, a lot.  The male leads in the film were pretty poorly cast, I thought.  Or maybe Amanda Seyfried just outshone them by so much she made them look bad.  Always a possibility.  Speaking of her, it isn’t in the movie, but here is Seyfried singing a pretty fantastic version of Sam the Sham and the Pharoah’s “Little Red Riding Hood” (which is a great song to begin with):

 

101.  Last Night

Sadly has nothing to do with the Traveling Wilburys’s song.  Stars Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington as a married couple who are each tested by temptations of infidelity when he goes on a business trip.  So as the movie flits between the two, it becomes a question of trying to guess (or root for/against?) who will cheat and who won’t.  I think that’s an interesting premise, but not sure the movie fully delivered.  Worthington’s business trip is with Eva Mendes, who very clearly wants to get in his pants (and who Knightley is already suspicious of).  Two things. First, Mendes is wildly underrated as an actress.  Second, if Eva Mendes wants to have sex with you, there’s just no way you are avoiding that, like, that’s just a concept I can’t wrap my head around.  Anyway, Knightley is tempted by a former lover who happens to be back in town.  They ended up walking a dog, getting locked out, and bringing the dog to the party.  Which I appreciated.

100.  Tyrannosaur

This indie darling from Paddy Considine stars Peter Mullan as a mean drunk who happens across a thrift store owner (Olivia Colman) who is trapped in a bad marriage with Eddie Marsan.  One would be best advised to have videos of puppies and rainbows queued up to watch after seeing this movie, because Tyrannosaur is a friggin’ bleak movie.  Not even “life sucks and then you die” bleak, but more “life sucks and then it sucks some more and then anyone you love dies and the only way to escape is the sweet embrace of death, which will never come except for when someone murders you.”  I was definitely behind the awards push for Colman and Mullan, they were both solid.

99.  Jane Eyre

I guess I prefer being bewitched (body and soul, naturally) by Mr. Darcy?  Which is probably a role Michael Fassbender should tackle in a decade or so.  I could understand how the romanticism of the story (I haven’t read the book, I’m sorry to say) might sway some romantics of the female persuasion, but I wasn’t taken in.  I needed to see more interaction between Mia Wasikowska and Fassbender, I just wasn’t into their relationship at all.  Also, I understand the times were different, but man, Rochester was messed up.

98.  Unknown

Without Liam Neeson, this is probably a straight-to-DVD pulp piece.  With him, the film becomes vaguely watchable.  It feels like the entire movie is built around trying to figure out why someone is pretending to be the person Liam Neeson is, so the twist/resolution was going to be key, perhaps essential to the movie.  The twist is definitely satisfactory, but not satisfying.  Pretty much all previous events are explained by the twist, so it did its job there, but I wanted more.  Diane Kruger, January Jones, and Frank Langella co-star.

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